Global success for glasswork which reflects racism through the ages

A student has created an alternative narrative about historical racism through glassworks and ceramics.

Chris Day, 52 from Lichfield
Chris Day, 52 from Lichfield

Chris Day, 52, from Lichfield, was a full-time plumber who applied to University of Wolverhampton four years ago to study design and applied arts.

He secured a First Class Honours Degree and is now studying for a Masters in the same subject.

A number of prestigious museums and art galleries across the world have purchased Chris's pieces.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has purchased Emmett Till, inspired by a 14-year-old black teenager who was abducted, beaten and lynched by two white men in 1955. His murder galvanized the emerging Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

The Scottish National Museum has purchased Back to Black while the Chrysler Museum of Art in Virginia, USA, has purchased Wander which depicts the tale of a luxury racing yacht setting sail from Charleston, South Carolina in 1858, on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean which was involved in the illegal slave trade.

Chris has won a number of titles and awards, as well as commendations for his work from exhibits worldwide.

Emmett Till bought by the V&A

His research has focused on the history of the slave trade in the Eighteenth Century, with the copper cage in one piece representing the restriction of movement both physically and mentally, emphasising the complete control traders possessed over another human’s life.

He also used materials derived from heating and electrical systems in reference to his ‘other’ career.

Chris left school and worked in a variety of roles, first as an illustrator for marketing material with Derbyshire Life Magazine moving to baking biscuits in a factory before becoming an engineering apprentice and working with robotics whilst at the same time qualifying to become a self-employed plumbing and heating engineer.

Chris said: “It’s been a real whirlwind for me since last year and the interest in my work has been phenomenal with major galleries showing interest in buying my work for display which is incredible.

“I’m a storyteller at heart and I always work with a narrative behind it. I want my work to move people and continue the conversation that’s needed to heal the rift that still exists in society.

“Like the glass I have pushed my approach in how I work with glass and ceramics in both traditional and experimental methods, to create contemporary artworks that represent my passion for this part of our history.

"As a black glassblower, I am one of few and on a quest to find and inspire more. My main purpose, however, is to engage the audience on issues that are hard to confront on many levels, using art to help overcome some of the traumas that haunt our collective past."

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